Written By Sam Bleakley – AHA student pilot (now HeliSpirit pilot)
Devonport (TAS) – Orange (NSW) helicopter ferry trip
In September 2016 I embarked on a ferry trip from Devonport to Orange with David Adamson (AHA instructor), where a Robinson R44 had to be moved between the states. The first leg of the trip took us from Devonport to Moorabbin, which involved crossing the Bass Strait. Stormy weather and lots of rain leading up to the crossing meant that sound knowledge of weather reports was a must for the 2.3 hour leg. On the day of the crossing the weather fined up nicely but with a low cloud base it meant that we would stick to 500ft for most of the over water part of the leg. Crossing to the main land and arriving at Phillip Island meant we had about 35nm to go until we reached Moorabbin Class D airspace. Our VFR reporting point was 3nm to the south of the airfield along the coast. Getting to experience Moorabbin and their high traffic, due to training in the area, helped to consolidate my knowledge and confidence when flying in and speaking to Air Traffic Control.
After spending the night in Moorabbin it was onto the second leg of the trip, Albury. More rain and a low overcast cloud base meant a slow start to the day, as we did not leave Moorabbin until 12pm. When finally departing the airfield we had to go around a few storm clouds and then take up our track to Kilmore. After reaching Kilmore we followed the Hume Hwy around the ranges and all the way to Albury due to the cloud base being around 2000ft. Awareness of traffic and planning for CTAF aerodromes along the route as well as entering Controlled Airspace at our Destination made for a big day consolidating knowledge around planning and navigation, awareness of low cloud bases, alongside invaluable experience and advice from instructor David Adamson along the way.
The final leg of the trip was from Albury to Orange via the Bogong Peaks where we performed a confined area landing on a snow topped mountain at an altitude of close to 6000ft.
The training that I received from AHA gave me great knowledge and confidence to undertake this trip, this opportunity with instructor David Adamson gave me a huge boost with exposure to different aspects of the industry, flight experience and progression as a CPL helicopter pilot.